Welcome to Kinema Club

Welcome to the website of Kinema Club, a long-standing, international but informal group devoted to the study of Japanese moving image media. Kinema Club was started precisely to share knowledge about Japanese cinema, so this site serves both to introduce our activities, such as the KineJapan mailing list and our conferences and workshops, as well promote information and thinking about films, research, bibliography, and education.

CFP for Kinema Club XIII

The next Kinema Club conference will be held at Harvard on January 17, 2014. Proposals are due August 20, 2013. Check out the full call for papers here.

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Olo: The Boy from Tibet

Iwasa Hisaya and Olo: The Boy from Tibet

The important documentary and experimental filmmaker, Iwasa Hisaya, died on 4 May 2013. He was attending a screening of his most recent film, Olo: The Boy from Tibet, in Miyagi when he fell down the stairs of the inn and struck his head. He was 78.

Iwasa was one of a number of crucial postwar Japanese filmmakers who... Read more

Relocating Ozu Yasujiro

I made a quick trip to the United States - four days and three nights - to attend a quite stimulating conference entitled Relocating Ozu: The Question of an Asian Cinema Aesthetic, which was held February 19-20, 2010, at the University of California, Berkeley.

The usual ways to explore such a... Read more


Young Kurosawa Thrives in Uncertain Times

With stories of religious cults on a rampage, children killing children, and school classes falling apart filling the newspapers in the last couple years, it’s not hard to feel that the order of things has gone awry. Yet with the immensity and unfathomability of these problems, you still get a helpless feeling that all these might be... Read more

Dead or Alive*

Laughing at the End of the World

Aikawa Sho and Takeuchi Riki, the two great stars of Japanese made-for-video gangster entertainment, are squatting on the bank of some squalid, industrialized river. The image itself seems in the process of falling apart, with the scratches one sees in an old movie raining down like cats and dogs. The two turn to the camera and, as if starting up their... Read more


To Know or Not to Know

The romantic pretensions of Hollywood to the contrary, love is a very messy business. After all, the other person is a completely separate being, whose independent thoughts, feelings, and experiences cannot be accessed immediately through ESP, whose very actions must always be interpreted through the unreliable filter of subjective impressions. One wonders if we... Read more

Jubaku (Spellbound)

Curse of the Salaryman

Salaryman movies have been one of the staples of Japanese film fare ever since these white-collar employees became the mythical center of both the economy and society of Japan. Yet these films have rarely been the kind of unabashed celebration of their heroes that one finds in, say, the treatment of the cowboy in many U.S. Westerns. The image of the salary man... Read more


A Drift Between Human, Subhuman

Humanity has built great cities and flown to the moon, but to Tsukamoto Shinya it remains as animalistic as ever. His cult classic The Iron Man (“Tetsuo,” 1989), featuring characters who slowly devolve (evolve?) into grotesque metallic beasts, presented the industrial... Read more


Film as Critique Is a Real Fake

First a head is lopped off, then a scantily clad beauty gets sliced in two, and finally everything ends in a dance of blood and knives. It is de rigeur for a horror flick and clearly as fake as it can be. Did you ever meet someone who really thought Janet Leigh was stabbed to death in Psycho?

Horror films, however, maintain their long-... Read more

Night Without Angels

The Hellish Loneliness of Living in the Big City

Ever since its towering spires began to blot out the sky, the modern city has been metaphorically tied to hell. From Hell’s Kitchen in New York to the shadowy infernos of film noir, the city has come to represent in name and image the depths to which humanity can sink.

The title of Ryuichi Hiroki’s new film, Night... Read more


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